Most people around the world would fail spectacularly if asked to list five Finnish films on the spot. It is a country whose film industry tends too often to get overshadowed by that of its neighbors. To the west, there’s Sweden, a country that gave us Ingar Bergman, Let The Right One In and all those Stieg Larsson Girl with the Never-Ending Sequels films. To the south, we have Poland, a country that gave us not only Janusz Kamiński, but also Krzysztof Kieślowski, a director whose Three Colours trilogy are a rite of passage for prospective film students all over the world. It’s hard to stand out in a crowd when you’re being overlooked by your Scandinavian neighbors. However, sometimes a film comes out that is so interesting and so gripping, that it just refuses to be ignored. Case in point, the 2022 adventure-horror film Hatching.
Tinja is a girl still caught in the cusp of youthful innocence. She is surrounded by an adoring family and lives her day-to-day life in the blissful ignorance of her suburban bubble. One day, after being drawn into the neighboring forest by the shrieks of a wounded crow, she finds herself in possession of the dying animal’s egg. A combination of maternal instincts and childish naivety compel her to bring the egg home with her and attempt to hatch it on her own. As the days go on and the egg begins to grow, Tinja starts to wonder at the true nature of the creature growing inside.
Hatching is a film that borrows heavily from the body-horror classics of the ’80s and ’90s, and while it may be technically considered a horror film, it is in actuality much more than that. It is a film about the complex emotions of growing up and the transition from innocence to adulthood. The monster may look like something that crawled straight off the set of Dark Crystal, but in actuality it is nothing more than the physical embodiment of the kinds of turbulent, violent, and confusing emotions one feels around that time. Tinja may be battling for her life against this creature in the physical world, but her true battle is being waged inside.
The set design for this film is absolutely gorgeous, with every scene looking like something straight from the pages of an interior design magazine. Each location comes with its own color palette and thus its own personality. Together these help to give Hatching its fantasy-like atmosphere. Each set piece is so pristinely and elegantly constructed, that you could shoot this film with an iPhone and still have it look just amazing—no offense to the film’s cinematographer Jarkko T. Laine.
Of course, this film could never have been so effective were it not for the talents of its lead actor, Siiri Solalinna. Many child actors tend to be a sort of one trick pony, sticking to the one set of skills that they tend to do best. Most child actors are not Siiri Solalinna . She commands each minute of screen time with a presence and intuition that belies the fact that this is her debut film. If this is an indicator of what we can expect from Solalinna, then we can’t wait to see what she does next.
With Hatching, Director Hanna Bergholm wanted to make a horror film for audiences that usually tend to shy away from the genre, and for the most part she succeeded. In many senses it is a horror film that is for the faint of heart. Scenes that would typically be laden with a myriad of jump scares, dark lighting and use of infrasound, are instead replaced by scenes set in safe well-lit environments and lack the typically over-indulgent use of a waterphone (look it up!). The insistence of the filmmakers to forgo CGI for more practical effects also help to make the dangers in this film feel more tangible. This means that while you are positive that the film’s creature isn’t lurking under your own bed, it is still not something you would want to meet alone in a darkened alley.
Hatching is an amazing genre-film classic that will keep you glued to your chair from start to finish. It is a film whose fantastical horror setting helps provide the perfect backdrop to explore the complex nature of burgeoning emotions while also giving horror fans something to salivate over. Whether it be the film’s engaging story, beautiful set design or superb performances, there is really nothing to dislike about this film. Next time somebody asks you to list your favorite Finnish films, don’t just go for the obvious choices of Iron Sky and Rare Exports. Give them a film you can be proud of. Give them something that will have them flocking to you for recommendations in the future. Give them Hatching.